Keep track of when your dog seems to itch or lick. If it is the same time every year, it may be pollen associated. Mild cases can be managed with home care. More severe cases will need medical therapy and some dogs will benefit from desensitization injections.
Atopy is the term for inhaled allergies in dogs. Terriers are especially prone to this problem and will often get worse with each allergy season. Many of these dogs will require medical treatment. Make sure that other causes of skin irritation are minimized. Use flea control products to reduce external parasites. Rule out food allergies and contact allergies from bedding or household cleaning products.
You can provide some comfort for your pet at home. During pollen season, avoid having your pet outdoors at peak pollen times, which is generally early in the day. Your local weather channel will often provide you with alerts as to what types of pollen are peaking as well.
After your dog comes inside from his walks, wipe him off with an unscented dryer sheet or damp cloth. You will collect much of the pollen from his coat. Keep windows closed to keep pollen from blowing inside. Weekly baths with a hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs may be helpful too.
You can also do some dietary adjustments to help your dog – especially with the addition of essential fatty acids like Omega 3 in the correct balance. Avoid foods with dyes or preservative additives that might stimulate an allergic reaction.
Your veterinarian may prescribe medications ranging from an antihistamine to a corticosteroid to help control your dog’s allergy symptoms. Your dog may also need medication to help the skin heal while you and your veterinarian identify the true problem causing the allergies and develop a strategy to avoid or manage them.
A dog with allergies is often reactive to multiple things. Very often these dogs can handle some allergens on their own with their immune systems in check. The problem comes when an “extra” allergen shows up and tips that precarious balance. That is often the case with spring pollen allergies. Skin testing may clearly define which allergens are the problems. In those cases, you can time your desensitization schedule to fit the season of most activity.
It is important to recognize that dogs with allergies are never “cured”. The goal is to manage their illness to prevent actual clinical signs. A combination of changes in care, along with medical therapy as needed, are often the most successful ways to handle canine allergies.